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Car Events 2015 – MITP August 2015


This weekend saw us catch up with some of our old MINI friends at Santa Pod Raceway, particularly Aston and Debbie and RVW and Storm. We have been to this event a few times and always enjoyed it, even last year’s when it rained for much of the time. This year we were on the MINIAC’s Only stand (and a big thank you to Dawn for her hard work in organising all the events the Miniacs do), while in the past we have gone with the MINI Clubman group.

The event is called Mini In The Park and some consider it “The UK’s Top Mini Show” for owners of Classic Minis and New MINIS, plus Mini Clubs and a Mini show for car fans of all ages.

Mini In The Park (‘mitp’ for short) is the only British Mini show that features Mini Concours, Mini Run-What-Ya-Brung (RWYB) racing, Mini Club car displays, a Win-A-Mini competition, Mini Trade Stands and Autojumble, plus lots of great action and entertainment, and a great Mini festival atmosphere.

Santa Pod Raceway near Wellingborough in Northamptonshire is the home of European FiA drag racing, and host to a variety of leading national events as well as Mini In The Park. The day is also beefed up by a healthy array of trade stands many of whom cater for the new MINIs that are our personal passion.

The weekend began at 2pm on Saturday when Aston and Debs turned up at our house en-route to Santa Pod. After a quick pizza we all headed off to our hotel the Holiday Inn Express in Northampton. We elected to go cross country and enjoyed a fun drive with our Coupe JCW convoying with Aston’s very sexy looking GP2.  After checking in and unpacking in the perfectly fine but very corporate looking hotel, we regrouped downstairs in reception and had a leisurely drink before going across the car park to The Harvester for dinner. My eyes were bigger than my belly and while I enjoyed my meal I had too much. After dinner we were back at the hotel and joined the rest of the Miniacs who were enjoying a boisterous evening in the bar. Our old ears were finally defeated by the din and we retired to bed ready for an early start in the morning.

Last year Mini in the Park at Santapod was a washout with the rain but this year the weather looked promising. The keen Miniacs had already gone ahead of us but we needed breakfast before we could do anything! In truth it has to be said that it was the most underwhelming hotel breakfast I have ever had. Sausage, scrambled egg and beans instead of a full English isn’t good enough, especially when I doubt if either the sausages or the eggs are real!

Batteries charged we headed off and coincidentally arrived at the same time as our old friends RVW and Storm. We all got parked on the Miniac’s stand and the day began.


Unfortunately we soon got split up from Aston and Debs and that was the last we saw of them, which was a shame as this guy has really been helping to re-kindle our MINI love. We scoured all the trade stands and bought some Autoglym leather cleaner and nourisher and then admired all the MINI stands. A few MINIs caught our eye. Another Miniac has a lovely Coupe Works in a unique mid blue colour which looks stunning and both me and Mrs P liked it a lot.


On another stand there was a stunning Paceman Works which we liked too. It had been lowered and put on some very sexy polished alloys and the effect really worked for us. Then of course there was the GP stand! I say this on every blog in which we see a GP and that is the GP is the car we should have had and never got and Mrs P has now said she will buy one! So watch this space.

There was a MINI dealer stand and Peanut fell in love with the JCW interior, all bright and shiny. Fortunately, when an F56 Works lined up side by side with a GP2 on the drag strip, she noticed that the GP2 looked planted and purposeful while the F56 works front looked very high from the ground. The F56 Works is brilliant to drive ( see my drive of it here) and Peanut has now endorsed the interior. Fortunately the exterior has not wooed us. In truth nothing wrong with it, but not an instant love affair. Respect the car then but do not feel the burning need to have one in our life. The GP first generation though is a different story!


In the afternoon we enjoyed some of the drag racing including old favourites such as The Terminator a jet powered classic Mini and a jet powered go kart. Then we saw a deafening and quick car which flew down the drag. Very impressive.


Then we watched the Run What Ya Brung, when cars brought along on the day were blasted down the track by their owners. £25 a run and I must admit I rather fancied it, though maybe not in an F56 as their clutches are not the strongest!

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All in all a great weekend though for all the fun at Santa Pod, the cars and the ideas they gave us, the best bit was catching up with old pals from the MINI scene and especially Aston and Debbie, and RVW and Storm.

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Our MINI Coupe JCW – A GP-esque GT?


We first saw the MINI Coupé when it was released as a concept car back in 2009 and it was an instant hit with us. The car became a reality in 2011 and in truth the production version was pretty close to the original concept and we first saw this in Liverpool when it was launched in October 2011. However, the car we saw was a Cooper S in red and to be frank we were less than smitten. The car looked gauche and gawky, it lacked balance and in truth we went off the car big time.

For a while a Countryman looked likely and then they announced the JCW Countryman and we felt sure that this would be the next MINI for us. However, when we saw a JCW Countryman in the flesh the love wasn’t there. It ticked loads of boxes but it never tugged the heartstrings. It was a car we ought to have, not a car we wanted. Meanwhile, MINI revealed an aftermarket JCW spoiler for their Coupé. This was a larger fixed spoiler that replaced the active pop up standard spoiler and for us it gave the car balance. Gawky became cute, gauche became chic and all the heartstrings in Beastie Folly were pulled! We really liked this car.

This love hate thing had gone on now from late 2009 till late 2012 so our JCW Coupé purchase has not been an impulse buy by any means. Another big attraction for us was that we were able to create our perfect spec. for the Coupé. The silver white and red exterior carries on beautifully inside with the satellite grey seats, the red dash and door rings and the satellite grey door rests and dash trim – it was just what we wanted. Lots of techy goodies were added too – Karmon Hardon HiFi, Satellite Navigation, telephone and iPhone  integration and so on.

It was instant love with this car. We went on to personalise it with our own number plate, SilverBeast name tags on the side indicators, red A-panels and from the start we had the fixed rear spoiler added. The GP2 rear diffuser was quickly added, as again this added an inch to the car’s length and gave it better visual balance. The Brake cooling intakes were changed to red, Daytime Running Lights were added and additional gauges fitted inside  – all to reinforce the sporty intent. The car was becoming very focussed and we realised  that we needed to consider exactly what this car was and what we wanted this car to be. Two and a half years into JCW Coupé ownership and with the love as great as ever we have determined where we want to take this car. First our thoughts turned to what we didn’t want and we quickly concluded that we do not want the fastest MINI money can buy, with mods to increase HP, top speed and 0-60 mph speeds, achieving this would compromise on-road functions. Necessarily this would be a superb track car but an uncomfortable on-road cruiser. Secondly we gave consideration to what exactly we did want. We concluded that our intent (building upon MINI’s own design mission) is to create a driver focussed car with form additions to facilitate its function – superb performance and handling. The fixed rear spoiler, the rear diffuser, The Daylight Running Lights and the auxiliary gauges, are form additions specifically to aid these functions. Red A-panels and front brake coolers are vanity projects in this context. Putting this another way, our JCW Coupé should be an alternative GP if you like, moderated to fully achieve GT (Grand Tourer) requisites by the initial specification of  all home comforts, such as air conditioning, built in satellite navigation, Karmon Hardon HIFI combined with the initial form that gave us secure concealed luggage storage and total interior comfort. A car perfect to cross Europe in – hard and fast.

To achieve this a few more additions are needed. Next it is time to add the GP2 under-tray to streamline under the engine bay. This is the fibre composite MINI GP2 Engine Under-tray kit. This aerodynamic underfloor panelling gives much increased downforce with reduced air turbulence under the vehicle giving better stability at higher speeds. Really the rear diffuser is ornamental without this at the front completing the under-streaming – combined the two give a huge increase in vehicle aerodynamics, downforce and stability. Under-bonnet cooling is also aided with channelled air through pre moulded air vents. Once fitted, this also provides some underbody protection. Metallic heat shielding around the downpipe area also gives protection from high temperatures. There is a potential resultant fuel saving too, but I won’t hold my breath. After this it will be the new full white front spots that you get on the new F56 MINIs. It already has the turny bendy xenon lights but these will hint at a rally intent, or more realistically a pan European touring capability where crossing mountain passes through the night can be done in daylight! We think  these last few additions will see SilverBeast  truly become a GP-esque GT, demonstrating a form that totally screams the car’s functional intent!

Job done then, but that does not mean he does not need a MINI GP 1 as his playmate!